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Monday, December 16, 2013

Third SOS solidarity mission off to Eastern Samar

The third solidarity mission of health disaster group Samahang Operasyon Sagip (SOS) is travelling again to Eastern Samar to reach the upland areas of Quinapondan, Giporlos, and Balangiga in Eastern Samar today, December 17 until the 22nd.  These communities very scarcely received relief and medical assistance since the onslaught of typhoon Haiyan.

SOS President Rosalinda C. Tablang announced that for the third wave of relief and medical mission efforts, they will be serving at least 1,500 families in barangays Sto. NiƱo, Catilian, and Anislag in Quinapondan; barangays Roxas, Huknan, 6, and 7 in Giporlos and; barangays Gimmayuhan, Cansumangkay, and Bunga in Balangiga -- all in Eastern Samar province.

In the midst of all the merry-making and warm heartedness this Yuletide season, Tablang appealed to “kind souls who may find joy in giving.”  “Not everybody may have as much in their pockets, but in so many other ways, each one can help,” she added.

“Aside from the family food packs that consist of 8 kilos rice, 5 pieces canned goods, ½ kg sugar, ½ L cooking oil, ½ kg mung beans, ¼ kg salt, ½ kg dried fish, and ½ bar laundry detergent, we are also bringing hygiene kits, plastic sheets, nails, flashlights, candles, and matches,” she said.

Tablang expressed that aside from the relief packs, the communities requested for simple construction materials to enable them to build their modest shelters anew.  “We are also bringing some gasoline to power the community chainsaw because the people want to rebuild their bridge in Barangay Huknan that was toppled down by [typhoon] Haiyan,” she noted.

SOS volunteers are also packing donated blankets, personal hygiene kits including sanitary napkins and jerry cans for potable water storage.

For the medical mission, the SOS team is headed by four doctors, including an infectious disease specialist from the United States, and several nurses.

Together with the communities in Leyte and Samar in the Visayas, SOS is untiringly calling for immediate and comprehensive rehabilitation efforts.

The continuous medical and relief missions of SOS are made possible through the kindness of donors, from all ages and all walks of life, here and abroad.  SOS is continuing its resource generation drives for the long term rehabilitation of affected communities in Leyte and Samar.  For inquiries, please contact Mel, 0947-4535788 or Grace, (+632) 929-8109.  They may also be emailed at

Reference: Rosalinda C. Tablang 0927-9259413 / (+632) 929-8109
        President, Samahang Operasyong Sagip (SOS)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

SOS Continues Response to Typhoon Yolanda Aftermath

 You may read the SOS Newsletter Issue 2 here or
or download it here

One month after Typhoon Yolanda’s onslaught, the fate of millions is still in limbo. With victims of the super typhoon facing homelessness, joblessness and hunger, the Samahang Operasyong Sagip (SOS) continues its efforts in helping them get back on their feet once more.

The second series of medical missions and relief drive operations were conducted in 9 barangays in the 3 municipalities of Leyte- Albuera, Ormoc and Kananga. A total of 41 individuals, 5  of which were doctors, 11 nurses, 3 medical interns, and health workers and volunteers from Leyte-Samar, Manila, Surigao del Sur, Cebu, and United States of America comprised the medical and relief mission team.  They were divided into 2 medical mission teams and 1 relief distribution team. 

Families from far-flung areas outside the town centers ,who have received few or no relief assistance and medical mission since the typhoon, were chosen for the medical missions and relief drive operations.

A total of 1,942 patients from Barangays Tinag-an, Antipolo and Mahayag in the Municipality of Albuera; Barangays Lunoy, Sto. Domingo and Natubgan in the Municipality of Kananga; and Barangay Ipil in Ormoc were served. Meanwhile, the relief drive operations benefitted 1,436 families from selected barangays in the towns of Albuera, Ormoc, and Kananga. They were able to receive relief packs, plastic sheets, building materials like nails, saw, hammers, cooking pots, and used clothes. Three water filtration pails were given to representatives of the three towns for use of the communities.

The most common medical cases included upper respiratory tract infections, hypertension, wounds or injuries, skin infections, acute gastro enteritis, diarrheal diseases, tension headache and insomnia. These ailments were also observed in the first wave of SOS medical missions in Eastern and Western Samar. The people in Tinag-an, Albuera requested for psychosocial assistance and tetanus toxoid for wounds sustained during the repairing and rebuilding of their homes.

Major health risks which could lead to serious disease outbreaks were noted. These include the lack of potable water supply, as observed in Barangay Ipil, Ormoc; Lack of adequate and safe shelter and housing; Lack of electricity make night time pitch black and movement in the areas difficult and dangerous; Undernourished children, and; Presence of stagnant water and debris, which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other carriers of diseases.

Most people in affected barangays have been trying to rebuild their homes and lives, yet many, especially those far from town centers, are still in dire need of assistance such as food, supplies and construction  materials. It is pertinent that they be part of the planning and actual implementation in the relief and rehabilitation efforts so as to ensure relevance of relief efforts and medical services.

We thus recommend the following:

      1. Government’s relief and medical assistance should include far-flung barangays.
      2. Assistance for people to rebuild their homes and communities, through provision of construction materials including GI sheets, nails, hammer, saw, etc. For sale construction materials promoted by DTI could not be afforded by many especially those whose livelihood was affected.

     3. Immediate and comprehensive health interventions to address potential sources of outbreaks and epidemics. These include immediate clearing of debris, provision of a safe water source, construction of shelter, assistance in food production and livelihood.

      4. Assistance for livelihood and rehabilitation- provision of construction materials, livelihood, food production, and economic activities.  ##

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Foreign loan will further bury the nation into the quagmire of debt and poverty

The last thing the Filipino people need right now is to pay-off more debts in the future.

This was Samahang Operasyong Sagip’s (SOS) reaction to reports that the Philippine government plans on incurring new loans from the World Bank (WB) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) amounting to US$1 billion.  The two financial institution giants appropriated US$500 million each for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) affected areas.

SOS is a disaster management group made up of different health NGOs and advocates.

Latest government estimates say that a successful reconstruction effort in the typhoon’s aftermath can amount to P250 billion (US$5.8 million).

Rosalinda C. Tablang, SOS president, noted that while additional infusion of budget may sound encouraging to some, she reminded the public that what these banks are giving are loans and not grants.  “Loans are meant to be paid. And, when a government decides to borrow from lenders such as WB and ADB, it’s the people who will pay later on,” Tablang said.

She further commented that the storm surge and foreign loan have one thing in common – both are catastrophically fatal to the people as this means that Filipinos, including the victims of Typhoon Yolanda will be further burdened in paying the new calamity loan.  The Philippine’s foreign debt has reached $60.3 billion at the end of 2012.

SOS also said that the ADB and WB are at the “height of their insensitivity and greed for taking advantage of the recent disaster to rake in more profit through loan interest.”  Tablang commented that loans are always with conditionality, “paying off the principal amount plus the interest will mean larger cuts in the national budget for the coming years.”  This will translate to smaller allotments for basic social services such as health, education, housing, agricultural subsidy and wage increase among others, she argued.

Instead of loans, SOS asserted that the government “should use foreign grants, local donations, and specific allotments from the national budget to rehabilitate the regions devastated by Yolanda.”

As of this writing, the Foreign Aid and Transparency Hub (FAiTH) website marked a total of PhP4,604,299,695.10 or US$104,968,300 of foreign aid from various international agencies.

On top of these, the government should “increase the national calamity fund in the next year’s appropriation.”  Calamity fund for this year was meagerly allotted PhP7.5 billion or a measly .75% of the PhP2.006 trillion 2013 national budget.

Tablang said that the Aquino government should have at least shown a little degree of independence and self reliance.

Instead of entertaining loans from international financial institutions should decisively allocate significant budget for post-Yolanda rehabilitation efforts.  Billions of people’s money that are being stashed away to corruption should be spent wisely to help millions of families that were rendered homeless and economically devastated by Typhoon Yolanda.

“Should it sincerely wish to help the people, the Aquino administration can create rehabilitation funds without having to be enslaved by foreign loans that have strings attached to it.  If Aquino pushes through with the loans from IMF-WB, he makes it all too obvious, again, that foreign domination through economic control is unforgiving even in the most trying times,” she ended.##